Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Friday night was a wonderful night. Almost 200 people joined the party and sang, danced, ate and drank in celebration of Robert Burns. Fun was the name of the day, and Talisker Whisky the drink of the night, thanks to Diagio's kind sponsorship.

The usual speeches were made, but with a difference. Tam o'Shanter eloquently recited by Will Clem, accompanied by a group of children acting out the story. Perfect no, but fun, oh yes. It was to set the scene for the rest of the night. The children were fantastic. Great to see children far away from home still learning about Burns, and it seems enjoying it.

Speeches were kept short. As we had a large non Scot participation we decided not to overwhelm with long speeches and incomprehensible language. I think we managed the first, but the second not so well. Scots, with alcohol, at the best times can be incomprehensible, throw Burns into the mix and you can understand why we failed on the second count.

My husband toasted "The Lassies" and did it very well. A few jokes, not too derogatory, leaving us lassies feeling good about ourselves. In response to his toast a small play was performed where Rab finds himself at the pearly gates, and much to his horror finds God a woman. That was me! As Rab had written "her prentice hand she tried on man, and then she made the lassies oh". So really he shouldn't have been so surprised. A bit of fun for all.

The haggis was piped in, duly toasted and enjoyed, I think by almost everyone. Meal over time for dancing.

For anyone who has done Scottish Country Dancing will appreciate what a work out it can be. Our poor unsuspecting friend, English I have to add, was surprised by the physical nature of the evening. But with good humour, a bit of cajoling he was soon joining in.

When one man lifted a chair to his shoulder and played it as if it was a bagpipe, it was only a few minutes before at least 50 grown men were marching round the room piping there hearts out. The Burns' Supper virgins were once again stunned at the way in which we Scots find to enjoy ourselves.

People dug deep for raffle, as Scots do, and money raised will go to help sport for under privileged kids here in Shanghai, a charity Scots in Shanghai support, and with the help of Ainsley Mann, a lot of kids have been given the opportunity to participate in sports who otherwise would not have been given the chance. Good to give a bit back..

A group of Chinese sang Auld Lang Syne in Mandarin, it was beautiful. When Burns penned these words he could never have comprehended of the miles this song would travel, and of it's beauty even in a language other than his mother tongue. I wonder in just how many countries and languages this song has been sung, not only over the past weekend but over the years since he wrote it.

1-00am came, people started drifting off. It was obvious everyone had enjoyed the evening. As it was a bit off piste compared to a traditional Burns' Supper we wondered what the Scots amongst us thought. Two remarks made me realise we had got it right. The first one being "Burns would have loved it" and the second being "It was like good friends getting together and putting on a Burns' Supper in the town hall" Happy with the remarks, I made my weary way home ready to it all the following night. It would be quite different, more formal as it was British Chamber hosting. However I knew I would also enjoy this as there is room for both. Now all I had to do was rest myself in preparation for doing it all again.

Well done everyone for making this an event to look forward to in Shanghai. See you all next year.


  1. It was a fun evening, the haggis and whisky tasted good, and the highlights were the dancing and 'the chair' pipes. Congratulations to all involved in organising. Book me in for next year!

  2. What a wonderful evening. Love the 'Chair pipes'. Wish the Welsh enjoyed themselves like this - we can be a 'dour' bunch!